Yellowstone Limited Edition 2017 vs 2019, 50.5% (101 proof)

In the first tasting by Whisky4All I participated in we tasted the 2019 bottling of Yellowstone’s Limited Editon. I instantly bought a bottle because of the enormous complexity and goodness it showed. Even before I wrote notes, or told the ‘tasting’ that I loved it.

Of course, we’re in Europe so it’s rather expensive and therefore I didn’t keep it all to myself, and sold some samples. Still, there’s a nice part for me to enjoy.

A few days after that tasting I was at De Whiskykoning and I saw that there was a sample of the 2017 limited edition. Of course, a comparison had to be made!

Interestingly enough I never looked twice at ‘Yellowstone bourbon’. Yet another cheaply branded product named after some random landmark in the United States. Can’t be any good, right? Wrong. As it turned out.

Also, it’s not as randomly branded and is a brand with a bit of history behind it and I should have done my homework. But, better late than never! So here we go (in a Mario voice).

As I just found out, there’s a bit of an age difference too, with the 2017 being 7 years old, and the 2019 being 9 years old. Also, the 2017 is finished in wine barrels.

Yellowstone Limited Edition 2017, 50.5% (101 proof)

Sniff:
Initially I get the typical bourbon like notes with corn and vanilla. It takes a while to open up but the wine starts coming through pretty clearly. However, I am not entirely convinced about the combination of flavors. There’s a bit of rancio, some oak and blue grape juice.

Sip:
The palate is very sweet but it goes in two different directions. There’s a wine like, almost port like, sweetness. But also a more pastry like sweetness that I find more typical for bourbon. Some chili heat for a bit of heat.

Swallow:
The finish is slightly hot too, surprisingly so for a 50.5% whiskey. It’s also a bit more dry and shows some spiciness that wasn’t there before. The wine stays in another lane again.

Well, this is weird. I expected to really like this whiskey, because it’s in the same product line as the 2019 version. This is a hugely different product though, with a far weirder approach. The wine and bourbon combination is not something I think works. Both the wine and the bourbon itself come with a certain sweetness and it doesn’t really integrate well, apparently.

80/100


Yellowstone Limited Edition 2019, 50.5% (101 proof)

Sniff:
Lots of warmth, maturity and character. ‘Wybertjes’, menthol, thyme, bay leaf. Some sweetness but just as a carrier for the other flavors. Rye bread crust.

Sip:
The palate shows a bit more punch, but isn’t overly sharp. Menthol, aniseed, again the Wybertjes (Dutch honey candies). Quite some oak and after a while some more heat, but not a lot.

Swallow:
The finish shows some more fruit, with plums and peaches. But also corn syrup, caramel, resin and pine.

The added two years softened this whiskey a lot. The ABV is the same but it drinks a lot more smoothly. The complexity is huge, on par with much older scotch whiskies. Not to say it’s comparable, but it does have as much to offer.

I am absolutely in love with this stuff. Of course, it’s a lot more expensive here than it is stateside, although the difference is less than I expected. Only about 100% more expensive here.

Still, I’m happy with my share and I’ll gladly drink this!

90/100

Posted in - American Whiskey, - Bourbon, Limestone Branch, Yellowstone | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Balblair 15, 46%

A short title if there ever was one. No weird cask mentions and no bottler. Just, the regular edition. I don’t have too many of these regular ones. Especially not Balblair since that is somehow pretty hard to get in the Netherlands.

Just one is either in or out of the daily drinking category, depending on when and where you buy it. I know the regular 70cl bottle is pretty steep, but this one is a liter. Normally it’s € 90, but it has been discounted to € 65 for ages now. And 65 bucks for a liter of sherry finished Balblair 15 years old is a good deal.

I visited the place in 2013 with Anneke and Ot, who was then only 9 months old. She was allowed in the carrier-back-pack thingy, except in the still room which is too small to properly navigate without a baby strapped to your back, let alone with one.

A good tour, I skipped the tasting because of driving (did take samples though) and since then a lot has changed. Distillery Only bottlings have gotten far more expensive, and they suddenly started using age statements. Easier to understand but I kind of liked the vintages. It was something rather unique about them.

So, the whisky then.

Sniff:
Sweet with lots of fruit, some barley and some oak. The fact that it’s 15 years old is noticeable, with a nice balance between the wood and the spirit. The barley gets more prominent after a few seconds, but the fruit stays there. Plums, figs, mango. Pretty tropical. It also has that crisp coastal scent, with just a tinge of salinity on the nose.

Sip:
The palate is pretty sweet, with some black pepper for some heat. Minor dryness from the oak, with a bit of wood spice. Nutmeg and clove, mostly. The fruit is a little bit lighter than on the palate. More towards fresh tropical fruits instead of dried. Some sweet orange, some tangerine, some mango.

Swallow:
The finish has quite a big flavor. It’s a bit of a mash between the palate and the nose. Lots of fruit, with both the cask and the sherry having their impact. Surprisingly long for what I was expecting.

This is actually quite a nice whisky. It’s not life changing but I never expected that. Apart from this having been used in two different tastings (so that was about 25 to 30 cl gone), I went through this bottle quite quickly.

As said above, this is at the level of a daily drinker, but quite a luxurious one. The price, especially since the discounted price seems to be the new normal for this one, is really good.

If you like fruity sherry, a bit of oak and something not ridiculously complex, but just quite comfortable, this is a good pick.

85/100

Balblair 15, 46%, bottled in 2019, available for € 65 (for a liter!) in Leiden

Posted in Balblair | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Online tasting: USA Hidden Gems, by Whisky4All / Norbert Tebarts

Ok, so I lied. I am doing more reviews of American whiskey after all. Mostly because when I wrote the previous post, I didn’t know I could join this tasting. I wanted to get in when it was sold out, but with delivery services doing their job carefully, I could get my hands on the back-up parcel.

Anyway, the theme of this tasting was to drink seven whiskeys that are available through Dutch importers, don’t cost more than € 50, and delivery well above that value. According to Norbert, of course. We would be the judge only after the selection had been made.

Check out Whisky4All on their website or on Facebook for upcoming tastings.

Let’s dive right in!


Templeton Rye, 4yo, 40%

Image from Whisky4All

Sniff:
Young with quite some notes of new oak and alcohol. Pretty raw, while not harsh. After a few seconds there’s more vanilla and stewed strawberries. There’s some minty spiciness, but not too much. Orange and some baking spices.

Sip:
The spices are dry, with some alcohol heat. Dry spices, with some chili pepper, oak bark, and hints of vanilla and dried mint and thyme.

Swallow:
Again, very dry and with quite a lot of spicy heat. Rather short.

Of course, this is that brand that put so much bullshit on their label that they had to change it, and pay everyone who could show a receipt $6 as recompense, about five years ago.

It’s a sourced rye, with additions (therefore not a straight rye). These additions don’t make it any less ‘tasty’, but they do make comparing this with something else difficult. You’re having apples and oranges, instead of two different kinds of apples.

This ‘whiskey’ is not necessarily bad, but the simple fact that there are additions in it rubs me the wrong way.

75/100


Minor Case Straight Rye, 45%

Image from Whisky4All

Sniff:
I have to pull the aroma out. Even with 15 minutes in the glass, it’s rather closed. Some dryness and sweetness after a few seconds. Slightly more sweet than regular ryes, because of the sherry casks. A very slight minty note, rye bread, the crust of French bread.

Sip:
Dry notes with corky oak. Some chili pepper, with nutty sherry notes. Almond bitterness, cherry stones, oak. A bit of a dustiness with a whiff of glue.

Swallow:
A true rye finish with a spicy heat, which is lovely in combination with the sherry notes.

The flavors are rather nice, and it’s a pretty complex whiskey. A shame it’s so closed, even with time to open up in the glass.

The addition of a sherry cask finish works rather well, and for a two year old whiskey this punches well above its weight.

85/100


High West, American Prairie Bourbon, 46%

Image from Whisky4All

Sniff:
Far less spicy than the ryes, but still quite a bit more dry than I expected. Not overly sweet at all! Some banana, overripe pear. Yeasty fruit. Scottish tablet.

Sip:
Dry again, with pear peels, pear. Overripe pear and banana, scottish tablet. Caramel with sweetness, but again, not overly so.

Swallow:
The finish is also dry, but with some fruitiness. Lots of pear, a background of banana. Brown sugar, fudge.

I really like the fact that this is not overly sweet. I was afraid the switch to bourbon after the ryes would give me huge notes of corn syrup and brown sugar, but a fairly constrained dram like this works fine.

Also, I really like High West in general, so that’s a boon. This doesn’t change the rating though.

85/100


Yellowstone Select, 46.5%

Image from Whisky4All

Sniff:
A lot heavier than the previous one. More heavy sweetness, more corn, caramel, browned butter. Stewed apple (the apple pie kind) with cinnamon and raisins. More oak with some rye spices.

Sip:
The sweetness makes it very gentle, and quite sweet. The heaviness is still present. Caramel, sugary popcorn, butter. Cinnamon, raisins.

Swallow:
The finish is a very typical bourbon finish, with dry oak, sugary caramel, fudge, some baking spices. It also shows some orange pith.

With this being a pretty high rye bourbon, there’s a bit more oomph to this one. More spiciness, more notes of leather as well. In the previous tasting I absolutely loved the Yellowstone, and this one is no different. It shows quite some depth for an affordable bottle, especially with the fruity notes on top of the other flavors.

87/100


Wathen’s Single Barrel, 47%

Image from Whisky4All

Sniff:
Barrel spice, some caramelized oak, very gentle, with some corn like sweetness. barbecue marinade, dried apple.

Sip:
The palate is a lot sweeter than I expected. Some chili heat, oak, caramel popcorn. A touch of leather, jawbreakers, cinnamon.

Swallow:
More heat here, with quite some sweetness. Again the hot cinnamon notes of jawbreakers.

An affordable single barrel is not something you see often, except for Evan Williams. While I generally find those a bit bland, this one shows a bit more depth with the heat it brings. A bit more depth, not a lot. In the end there was a bit too much sweetness happening for me, especially after the last two whiskeys.

84/100


Rebel Yell 100 proof, 5yo, 50%

Image from Whisky4All

Sniff:
Charcoal and bacon, baked apple, fried apple peels. Some vanilla, browned butter, a hint of coffee. Dry without much spiciness.

Sip:
Again, dry, with some heat but not very spicy. Fried apple peels,

Swallow:
A long finish in which the dryness is a bit lower than on the palate, but still with a bit of bite. There’s a fruitiness that I cannot pinpoint. There’s that bacon from the again though.

What surprised me most is that there are affordable wheated bourbons out there. Especially in The Netherlands, with its limited market and high prices.

The wheated bit shows most in the fact that it does have the dryness but not the spiciness of rye whiskey. Very interesting, and some really lovely flavors of browned butter, apples and a whiff of coffee!

This one is now on the wish list.

87/100


J.W. Dant, Bottled in Bond, 50%

Sniff:
Lots of oak, with quite some alcohol. Popcorn, some dry grains, peanuts. Black pepper.

Sip:
A bit more hot than I expected. Lots of oak, lots of pepper on the palate, dry grains.

Swallow:
It brings some new heat, but gets more mellow quickly. There’s some tropical fruit, with mango, somehow.

At this point my tasting skills already went to sleep. With all construction works going on at the house, a lot of moving around and a ridiculous schedule, I was amazingly tired, and might not have given this whiskey the attention it deserves.

However, I did find that this one is a bit too strong for the flavor it packs. The alcohol and the accompanying heat ruled supreme. The hint of peanuts was interesting, but that was as far as I got.

84/100


As promised, all these whiskeys punch well above their price tag. There’s no shortage of affordable bourbon that is very drinkable, but hidden gems like these keep you interested and keep variety available without you having to dig deep into your wallet.

My personal favorites were the Yellowstone and the Rebel Yell, and it would surprise me if these didn’t end up on my shelf as high quality daily drinkers!

Another good school night, if I may say so! Thanks Norbert!

Posted in - American Whiskey, - Bourbon, - Rye Whiskey, High West, JW Dant, Limestone Branch, Minor Case, Rebel Yell, Templeton, Yellowstone | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Uncle Nearest 1856, 50% – Nearest Green Distillery

I’ve more or less given up on Bourbon’s back stories since there’s more fiction than fact in these, generally. If you go by everyone’s origin story there’s about 25 guys who invented bourbon as we know it, so there’s no point in reading about it anymore.

The same is most likely true for ‘Uncle Nearest’. The first thing I see when I google the whiskey is ‘The best whiskey maker the world never knew’. So, I’m gone. Let’s just drink this whiskey.

A FEW MOMENTS LATER (HD) Spongebob Time cards + DOWNLOAD - YouTube
Image from Whiskybase

Okay, so I decided to look after all. It didn’t help. There’s a story about a former slave who became a distiller and a reverend making awesome whiskey in Tennessee, just outside of Lynchburg. Could be true, but I guess there’s some freedom with facts in this.

Anyway, tasting time.

Sniff:
Dry sweetness, with hot cinnamon. Corn, with lots of oak, charry barbecue notes with some grilled mango notes.

Sip:
Again, dry and rather spicy. Crushed black pepper, hot cinnamon. Some barbecue and fruit flavors. Like sweet pork marinade.

Swallow:
It gets more dry with hints of oaky bitterness. Spicy, with some fruit in the background.

Even though it’s at 50% / 100 proof, there’s quite some heat to it and that is something I quite enjoy. Interestingly it doesn’t say ‘bottled in bond’ even though it has the right ABV for it.

All in all, it is not an overly complex thing, but quite a lovable one, which has more to offer than a lot of stuff at the same price point. In Europe it clocks in at about € 65. Not exactly cheap, but leaps and bounds below things regular considered ‘premium whiskey’, like this one.

86/100

Posted in - Bourbon, Nearest Green, Uncle Nearest | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Online tasting: USA Exclusive II, by Whisky4All / Norbert Tebarts

Norbert is a guy who’s been around for ages in the whisky world, and has started his own company to host tastings and have stands at festivals a few years ago. He is mostly known for his enthusiasm about American whisky (without an e, since we’re in Europe and that’s how you spell it here, according to him).

With COVID-19, all whisky festivals and tastings have been cancelled and most companies have taken refuge in the online world of Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams.

This tasting was no exception. Seven American whiskies were tasted on August 20th, of which I will review 6 here. The seventh will follow in a little while, which I will go over in more detail, since I bought (and shared) a bottle of it.

Check out Whisky4All on their website or on Facebook for upcoming tastings.


Hiram Walker Imperial, 4 years old, American Blended Whiskey, 43%, +/- 1971

Image from Whisky4All

Sniff:
Initially sharp, but mellows down to a rather sweet whiskey. A fairly spicy scent follows that. Warming with dying embers, some honey.

Sip:
Very old fashioned. Some pure bourbon sweetness with not much ‘design’ to it. Pretty dry and even a bit of card-board. A whiff of white and black pepper, with some honey.

Swallow:
The finish is dry, corky, with hints of old apple. Virtually no modern sweetness, and therefore a lot more character. Quite short with some treacle.

We started off with an oldie, bottled almost 50 years ago. This whisky is from a weird time in American whisky, when people were looking for lighter styles and vodka was gaining ground on this ‘old fashioned’ drink. So, an American blended whisky is generally vodka with some whisky mixed into it.

So far, I’ve not dabbled in this style all that much, but I was positively surprised by it. It had more flavor than I expected of an American blend. I wonder what the mixing ratios are, and how much of that flavor would hold up if it was made today. Bourbon was different, 50+ years ago, like Scotch was different. All in all, a pretty solid start.

84/100


Hermitage Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 4 years old, 40%, bottled in 1976

Image from Whisky4All

Sniff:
Quite an intense nose, with a lot of oak notes. Menthol, burnt oak, almonds. Maybe even some marzipan. A whiff of licorice.

Sip:
The palate is a lot lighter with even some acidity. Slightly sour, a lot more corn than before. Sweet and sour, with sharpness from the oak.

Swallow:
The finish is a bit contrasting, going full force against the sweetness. Some bitterness, some acidity, licorice. The sweetness does survive though.

Another oldie followed. Obviously there is more focus on the corn since there is significantly more in here, so a sweeter drink too. Although the sweetness supposedly is more from the oak than from the corn, as Norbert said.

The hints of Marzipan and licorice hold up this whisky, although the contrasting finish make it a bit weird. For a bourbon from this long ago, I would have expected a little bit more depth. Although, again, this is from the time where bourbon was anything but popular.

80/100


Town Branch Rye, 100 proof, 50%

Image from Whisky4All

Sniff:
A lot warmer, more modern, more thick. Syrupy, with balls. Quite fierce, with lots of oak and baking spices. Cinnamon, charcoal, bitter wood notes. Candy canes.

Sip:
The palate is quite sweet, very much bourbon like, with some rye spiciness. Not a lot though. Candy cane, cinnamon. A touch of acidity with heat form the alcohol.

Swallow:
The finish is a lot lighter and more spicy. Quite long with menthol and a lot of oak.

This is a far more modern whisky, with more thickness, a bit more oomph too. The combination of spicy rye, oak notes and a candy sweetness make for a dangerously drinkable whisky. The surprising note of acidity on the palate was nice to contrast the sweetness.

Quite a lovely dram, this. I wouldn’t mind going through a bottle of this stuff. I think the 100 proof really helps this whisky.

86/100


Sagamore Spirit Rye, Port Finish batch 1C, 50.5%

Image from Whisky4All

Sniff:
Initially it’s pretty intense, but it mellows down after while. There’s a lot of sweetness, Fairly straight forward with a lot of corn, and a lot of oaky sweetness.

Sip:
There’s a LOT of sweetness on the palate, with quite some spices after that. The port dryness adds to the rye dryness, but the sweetness doesn’t really work for me. Stewed red fruits, jam, with spices that don’t belong.

Swallow:
The finish is, again, insanely dry, with heat from the oak and alcohol, with white pepper.

Throughout this whisky there are some hints of menthol, pine and solvent. These do give it some complexity and try to balance the port casks.

To say we’re getting into strange waters is an understatement. I have a strenuous relation with port matured whiskies in the best of situations, but to add the port sweetness on top of the sweetness of an American whisky is asking too much from me.

Honestly, I really, really dislike this whisky. I’m not sure what they’re going for here, but it absolutely doesn’t work for me.

Side note: They’re talking about a finish in European and American Port Barrels. If that refers to the oak’s provenance, fine. If that refers to where the port came from, it’s weird, because ‘port’ made anywhere else than a small region in Portugal can’t be called that. Not sure how that holds up in International law though.

70/100


Clyde May’s Special Reserve, Alabama Style Whiskey, 110 proof – yellow label, 55%

Image from Whisky4All

Sniff:
Granola bars, popcorn, caramel, corn syrup, vanilla, some rancio. Some dryness and heat from the oak, a whiff of chili. A whiff of a deep fryer too…

Sip:
Caramel covered popcorn, caramel apples. A whiff of cayenne dusting. It gets more dry after some swimming, becomes quite a bit hotter, with more chili pepper and oak too.

Swallow:
Insanely dry, cayenne pepper, mellows quickly. The finish is rather short, with most focus going towards the ABV.

It’s quite young and especially on the finish that’s noticeable. Or, at least, it comes across as a young whisky, but it’s actually 6 to 7 years old.

The ‘Alabama style’ refers to a natural essence of apple being added during bottling. While this makes it not-whisky in my book, it’s not a ‘bad’ thing. Bourbon and apple work quite well together.

However, this is one of those products that I like to taste, but I wouldn’t go through a bottle all too quickly.

77/100


Blood Oath Pact No. 4, Lux Row Distillers, 49.3%, bottled in 2018

Image from Whisky4All

Sniff:
Very dry, once more. Very classical with a lot of vanilla like sweetness, corn syrup. A lot of attention to the baking spices, resulting in a very old fashioned whiskey.

Sip:
The palate is quite dry, but not very intense. Some bitterness because of the long time in wood. Some woody heat resulting in chili heat.

Swallow:
The finish mellows very quickly, with oak and corn. Some caramel, stewed fruits. Milk chocolate too.

This is a considerably older whisky than what came before, with this being a mix of 10 and 12 year old bourbons.

As steady readers of MaltFascination know, I love the bitter notes that I found here and this one is a lot more mature and old fashioned because of these.

All in all, a very good whisky, which should not be too surprising with this clocking in at € 170 in Europe. Expensive stuff, but these bottlings are popular on both sides of the Atlantic.

87/100


With that we didn’t come to the end of the tasting. After the Blood Oath we had a Yellowstone Limited Release 2019. A 50.5% bourbon at 9 years old. I absolutely loved that one and bought a bottle before I even said I loved it in the tasting. Tastings notes to that will follow, based on more extensive trying.

Posted in - American Whiskey, - Blended Whisky, - Bourbon, - Rye Whiskey, Blood Oath, Clyde May, Hermitage, Hiram Walker, Imperial, Limestone Branch, Lux Row, Sagamore Spirit, Town Branch, Yellowstone | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Old Forester ‘1920 Prohibition Style’, 57.5%

This bottling from a few years ago is one that I had my mind set on since last week. That’s not long at all, but there’s a bit of a story there.

A little while ago, with an exponentially growing enthusiasm, I’ve become interested in bourbon again. Contrary to a few months ago when I thought I was quite done with the style.

This happened because I tried some different versions in various tastings I participated in or tasting sets I bought. As it turns out, to keep enthusiastic about something, you have to keep feeding it. I hadn’t been, apart from ‘the cheap options’.

Now in those tastings I tried some amazing whiskeys, bourbons, ryes, even American blended whiskeys, which I never expected to like. A footnote is that this one was bottled in the early seventies, with distillate from the sixties. Not your regular bottom shelf hooch.

Then, a short while ago, I discovered the Youtube channel ‘Bourbon Junkies‘ and I’ve been absorbing their style and content like a sponge. Unfortunately, virtually everything they review is either not available in Europe, or so ridiculously expensive that it could just as well have been unavailable.

What they named an affordable, available bourbon that scores exceptionally well for its price level was this Old Forester ‘1920 Prohibition Style’ bourbon. In the USA it’s available for $ 55. In Europe it’s available for $165.

Shit.

Woohoo!

Then, as luck and planning would have it, I went to De Whiskykoning to pick up some stuff I had set aside there, and we got to chatting about this very pricing phenomenon.

Rob, the owner of the place, then told me he used to have that bottle, and that he had samples available. Obviously I bought a sample. I don’t know why I didn’t buy ALL the samples, but that has since been corrected.

Now, let’s see what all the fuss (I created) is about.

Image from Whiskybase

Sniff:
Right after pouring it the sweet and oaky notes start filling the room. Apart from sweetness and oak there are quite some wood spices. Some clove, some nutmeg. There’s some stone fruit too, like peaches. Slightly creamy, and not too punchy for the ABV.

Sip:
The palate does show more of the punch from the alcohol, with quite an astringent kind of wood. Oak shavings, some furniture wax, but still with the peaches and cream. The dryness doesn’t give way anytime soon, although there is a little bit more sweetness than on the arrival. It shows some black pepper too.

Swallow:
The finish is a little bit hot, but that’s not really a surprise. The pepper and the oaky dryness show a little bit more and linger quite a while.

Well, now I understand what the fuss is about and this is a rather cracking bourbon. I love that it’s dry enough to show some character and is not ‘just sweet’. The sweetness is there, but the oak and the alcohol keep that in check.

This is not a $ 165 bourbon, but I’d gladly pay money for this. It’s really, really good.

88/100

Old Forester ‘1920 Prohibition Style’, 57.5%. Check availability here

Posted in - American Whiskey, - Bourbon, Old Forester | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Glenrothes 19, 1997-2017, 58.8% – Whiskybase

On of these 10,000*n bottles of Whiskybase. One I’ve had on my shelf for a while and never really got into, or got around to reviewing. In the end I sold some samples and it still took me three years to finish it.

Now that sounds overly negative, but let’s see whether or that is true!

Sniff:
Leathery with thick skinned, dried fruit. More wood and barley notes, accompanied by some spices start emerging after a short while. Peaches and nectarines, old polished oak.

Sip:
Fairly strong with lots of dry and sharp oaky notes. Wood spices, sawdust, peach skins, nectarines, mango skin. The leathery sensation.

Swallow:
The finish is smooth and fruity, with more focus towards that than the woody notes.

Strangely, when reviewing it, there is nothing bad to say about this whisky. Actually, it’s a really, really good one. However, back when it came out there were several others from Glenrothes that came along as well and those made a bigger impression on me, like the one from The Single Cask.

So, in the end I’m glad I didn’t bunch this one with that one, since it wouldn’t have gotten the correct review. When reviewing things together, you start comparing in a different way than when you taste things separately. For reviewing, I sure prefer the latter.

Anyway, a rather good whisky that, if I remember correctly, cost about € 90 when it came out. That’s a good price for a bottle like this. There’s enough complexity and flavor to keep you busy for a dram or so. And after that it’s pretty solid to drink too. After all, it’s almost 60%.

88/100

Currently available for € 128 in the Whiskybase Market.

Glenrothes 19, 08/10/1997-04/04/2017, Sherry butt 15404, 58.8%, Whiskybase

Posted in Glenrothes | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Annandale 2016, Man O’ Sword, Founders’ Selection, 61.1%

So, my first Annandale review!

I was quite excited when a new Lowlands distillery was announced. Between Auchentoshan and Glenkinchie there wasn’t too much there. At the time Bladnoch wasn’t doing much and Ailsa Bay and Daftmill weren’t releasing much, if anything.

And, with Rosebank also being a Lowlands whisky, I was hoping for another one to put the region more solidly on the map.

Then, when the initial two releases were done and you had to shell out £ 300 for a bottle of three year old whisky, my enthusiasm waned quite a bit. Not only because of the price of the whisky, but at the apparent intent to go for super premium instead of going for a ‘solid whisky’.

Super premium stuff without having earned that reputation never really works for actual whisky fanatics. It might work for Chinese businessmen, or collectors who are in it for the money, but not for people who actually love whisky.

Luckily, they’ve come to realize that too, and subsequent releases were far more acceptably priced. However, this stuff is also only three years old and still clocks in at € 100.

Let’s see what it’s about and if the price is realistic for the drink you’re getting.

Image from Whiskybase

Sniff:
Rather youthful on the nose, with a lot of harsh cask notes. The wood is really pushed onto the whisky. There are notes of charcoal, tar and iron shavings. There is some fruit in there as well, plums and dates.

Sip:
The initial arrival isn’t too strong, but that’s probably because your palate is recovering from the shock since the alcohol comes searing through quickly. The fruit is here too, with some bitter notes rather than sweeter ones. Again, the splintery oak notes, masquerading as maturity.

Swallow:
The finish allows your tongue to start burning all over again. Insanely hot on the way down, uncomfortably so. There’s sweetness from the fruit now, with the bitter notes I found on the palate. Dried plums and dates. Hints of paint, charcoal and tar again.

I have no idea what to make of this. It feels like I still don’t get to taste what Annandale is like, since I think I only taste cask and alcohol. If that’s the case there is still hope left.

Unfortunately, I find this a hugely disappointing dram. It’s far too strong without something good to back it up. As said, the wood feels forced, and that comes across as mistaking woody flavors for maturity.

In short, let’s be frank, this is pretty shit. I’m very disappointed. I’m hoping future, slightly more timid releases will become available.

65/100

Annandale 2016, Spanish Oak Hogshead 544, 61.1%, ‘Man o’ Sword’ Founders’ Selection. Not surprisingly, it’s still available at € 100 / £ 88.

And in regards to the rating. 65 is really low. It’s not like in school where this is still above passing. Anything under 80 should be tried before it’s bought, in my book.

Posted in Annandale | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Ten Cane 11 years old, 2008-2019, 63% – The Duchess ‘Hummingbirds’

Normally I would have been happy with a sample arriving in the mail from the rather excellent rums bottled by The Duchess. Also normally, I wouldn’t really be in the know of upcoming bottlings unless Nils announced them to me.

This one, however, is different. When social gatherings were a thing, about 29 years ago in February, I was at the Hielander Whisky Festival and Nils gave me a wee sip of this and I was quite blown away by the punch that it packed. And I don’t mean this in regard to the ABV, which is pretty stellar too.

I instantly loved this rum, and it being from a closed distillery makes it all the more interesting. It took another half year before it became available but I bought a bottle the minute it came out.

Of course, that still means I get to sip it before I actually open my bottle. This opening will happen tomorrow when I start sampling a bit of it for a tasting I’m hosting. I’m very much looking forward to gauging everyone else’s reactions!

Sniff:
While potent, it’s not too strong on the nose initially. Or maybe it’s so strong that everything goes numb before your brain registers it… It’s a very funky rum with lots of shoe polish and wax coats. There’s a strangely crisp sweetness of cane juice. After that I get overripe bananas. It stays pretty funky but in a very, very good way.

Sip:
The palate is where the ABV instantaneously shows. It starts burning with some chili heat, and some heat from the oak too. The funky flavors are slightly suppressed by that, but they’re still there. It’s rather dry, with a sawdust like texture. There’s a bit of charcoal, with some grilled banana and mango.

Swallow:
The finish leaves a slowly crumbling coating of molten sugar. Surely but slowly the shoe polish and other funkiness comes back. There’s that crisp note of sugar cane again as well.

Well, after the introduction you’re not going to be surprised that I think this is an amazing rum. With ‘only’ eleven years of aging, of which 7 were in the tropics, it’s quite surprising that the ABV is still so high. It is not to the detriment of this dram, though. I absolutely love it, for it’s unapologetic funkiness. Epic stuff.

90/100

Ten Cane 11, 2008-2019, Bourbon Barrel 80, 63%. Available from Best of Wines for € 90

Absolutely gorgeous, Nils, thanks for the sample, the taster at Hielander, and now the bottle!

Posted in - Rum, Ten Cane | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tomatin 21, 1994-2015, 48% – Claxton’s

A second bottling from Claxton’s that I got my hands on. This time it’s a 21 year old Tomatin, which was also discounted to a pretty reasonable price.

My view of Tomatin is that it can be a great whisky, but a lot of the stuff out there is a quite middle-of-the-road. I’ve had some great ones, the boxed set with the accompanying sherry that was in the cask before comes to mind. Tomatin Meets Sherry, it was called and there was an Oloroso and a PX version.

However, since visiting the distillery I’ve not had too many expressions. Not entirely sure why, but not being rich enough to buy everything probably has something to do with it.

Anyway, this Claxton’s whisky is from a refill bourbon hogshead. I’m hoping it’s a bit less cask driven than yesterday’s Glentauchers. This spirit is fairly gentle too, so casks can get the upper hand relatively quickly.

Sniff:
Unsurprisingly, a lot of wood influence. It was in the cask for 21 years, after all. The spirit feels like it was a blank canvas for the cask. Lots of sweet notes of oak, some vanilla, and after a while some minerals and iron. So, some spirit after all because of the hint of iron.

Sip:
Quite some vanilla and custard notes. It gets dry with some oak and barley. A touch of white pepper gives it a bit more heat than expected. Quite sweet, overall, with hints of vanilla custard.

Swallow:
The finish mellows quickly, with the most cask-forward flavors lingering.

It is very much a cask driven whisky, but for a timid spirit in fresh bourbon, it could’ve been much worse.

The fact that this is a refill cask instead of a first fill doesn’t change much in regards to there being less cask influence than there was with the Glentauchers. I think this one has even less spirit character, apart from the apple-y, mineral note on the nose.

A bit of a bummer. And one that worries me a little bit. I’ve had four whiskies by Claxton’s over the last couple of months (one I have yet to write about, but the other one is reviewed here) and so far I am not convinced. They seem to be going for not very outspoken whiskies, lacking most distillery character. I’ll not be buying much more by them, at least not without sampling first.

83/100

Tomatin 21, 1994-2015, Refill Hogshead 1503-11247, 48%, Claxton’s. Available at The Old Pipe for € 75

Posted in Tomatin | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment